Can India have ‘Project Great Indian Bustard’ like one for tigers, SC asks Centre | India News

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday requested the Union ministry of environment, forest and climate change to consider launching ‘Project Great Indian Bustard (GIB)’, akin to India’s acclaimed conservation effort through ‘Project Tiger’, to save the critically endangered bird, whose numbers have dwindled to about 150.
A bench of Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud and Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian asked attorney general R Venkataramani to take instructions from the ministry at the end of the resumed hearing on a PIL filed by conservationist M K Ranjitsinh, who had sought SC intervention to stem dwindling of population of GIB in their core habitats in Rajasthan and Gujarat.
The CJI told the AG, “We have a successful model in ‘Project Tiger’. Can we not bring a focussed approach to save the beautiful and one of the largest birds by launching something like ‘Project GIB’? Please have a word with the Union minister and come back with a response.” Further hearing in the matter was fixed in January.
The ‘Project Tiger’, launched in 1973, is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS) of the Ministry of environment, forests and climate change, providing funding support to 18 tiger range states for in-situ conservation of tigers in designated tiger reserves, and has put the endangered animal on an assured path of recovery by saving it from extinction. It started five decades back with nine tiger reserves, now increased to 51 covering 2.23% of the country’s geographical area.
Senior advocate Shyam Divan, appearing for the petitioner, accused the Rajasthan government of doing little in complying with the SC orders for installation of bird diverters on overhead power transmission lines passing through core habitats of GIB resulting in several deaths of the endangered species, which lack good forward vision and collide with transmission lines.
Interestingly, Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot had launched ‘Project GIB’ in the state on June 5, 2013, on the ground that the bird was more vulnerable to extinction than tiger as it did not gain attention and remained below the protection line. The 11-point conservation modalities in ‘Project GIB’ did not mention GIB mortality due to collision with transmission.
The court directed the chief secretaries of Rajasthan and Gujarat to file separate affidavits in four weeks detailing the progress made in installation of bird diverters on overhead power lines passing through the priority GIB habitat areas.

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